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Does Israel have the right to the Land of Israel?

This special topic was recorded on March 29, 2008. Our speaker for this session was Elie Nessim.

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The text for this session:

Today’s question is concerning Israel and the Land.  The question is as follows:


Does Israel have the right to the Land of Israel?  What is the Biblical perspective and how should believers be responding?  Is there a Biblical basis for a two-state solution in Israel?


In reply, let us consider the Biblical evidence.  It’s as follows: -


GOD’s promise to Abraham, His promise to Isaac, His promise to Jacob, His promise to the twelve tribes.  This promise is irrevocable, judgement is threatened on usurpers, and strangers are welcomed.


Let’s look at these in order.  First of all, GOD’s promise to Abraham. 


In Genesis 12:1 “Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.””  And again, when Abraham arrived at the land – verse 7: “Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.”  And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.””


Abraham’s title to the land was confirmed.  In Genesis 13, verse 14 through 17:  “And the LORD said to Abram after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are – northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.  And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.””   


Also, Abraham’s title to the land was confirmed by Covenant.  In Genesis 15, verse 7:  GOD said to Abraham – “I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.” 


And then from verse 18 through 21:  “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates – the Kenites, the Kenezzites, and Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.””


That was GOD’s promise to Abraham.  This was passed on to Isaac.  In Genesis 17, verse 7 and 8, GOD said to Abraham:  “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you.  Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” 


There’s the land secured to Abraham’s children, and also in Genesis 17, verse 20 and 21, the choice was narrowed down to Isaac.  “And as for Ishmael, I have heard you.  Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly.  He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.”


Not only was the choice narrowed down to Isaac, but it was personally confirmed to Isaac by GOD himself.  In Genesis 26, verse 3, the LORD said to Isaac: “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.” 


Thirdly, we see GOD’s promise to Jacob.  In Genesis 28, we read about Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau, and GOD appearing to him.  Genesis 28, verse 12 and 13:  “Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.  And behold, the LORD stood above it and said:  “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.””


 So the promise was repeated to Jacob and his sons.  Later on also in Genesis chapter 35, the LORD again confirmed the promise to Jacob.  Verse 12:  “The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him.””  So it was divinely confirmed twice to Jacob. 


Fourthly, it was then passed on to the twelve tribes when GOD called the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt, in Exodus chapter 6, verse 7 and 8: 

“I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.  Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.  And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage:  I am the LORD.” 


So here is GOD’s promise announced to the nation of Israel, and as it is celebrated in the Psalms, it was by an everlasting covenant.  Psalm 105 verse 7 through 12:


“He is the LORD our God; His judgments are in all the earth.  He remembers His covenant forever.  The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations, The covenant which He made with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac, And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying “To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance, when they were few in number, indeed very few, and strangers in it.””


Fifthly, GOD’s promise is irrevocable.  Speaking of a time of apostasy, in Leviticus chapter 26, and the judgements that would overtake His people for their apostasy, GOD goes on to say this in Leviticus 26, verse 40: 


“But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers, with their unfaithfulness in which they were unfaithful to Me, and that they also have walked contrary to Me, and that I also have walked contrary to them and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if their uncircumcised hearts are humbled, and they accept their guilt – then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and My covenant with Isaac and My covenant with Abraham I will remember; I will remember the land.  The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes.  Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.  But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God:  I am the LORD.”


The question arises, how does GOD make up the deficiency of His people?  And here is the answer.  In the Song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32, verse 43: 


“Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”


The price that Israel should have paid, GOD promises to pay Himself.  “He will provide atonement for His land and His people.”  The land is secured by GOD Himself.


Sixthly, GOD, in the Prophets denounces those nations that seek to usurp the land, which He had promised His people. 


In Jeremiah chapter 12, verses 14 and 15, this is what GOD has to say about those nations that seek to usurp the land He promised His people:  “Thus says the LORD:  “Against all My evil neighbours who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit – behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them.  Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land.”  


Evil is threatened against any other nation that seeks to expropriate the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the twelve tribes of Israel. 


But there is lastly, provision made for strangers.  In Ezekiel chapter 37, verse 22, the first thing GOD says there is that the nation would be one united nation.


Ezekiel 37, verse 22:  “And I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.”  So there’s no such thing as a two-state solution.


Also, in Ezekiel chapter 47 and verse 22, the period called the Millennium, when Messiah reigns in Israel, the LORD says in Ezekiel 47, verses 21 – 23 for completeness: 


“Thus you shall divide this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.  It shall be that you will divide it by lot as an inheritance for yourselves, and for the strangers who dwell among you and who bear children among you.  They shall be to you as native-born among the children of Israel; they shall have an inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. (Not besides them or apart from them).  And it shall be that in what ever tribe the stranger dwells, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord GOD.””


By way of conclusion, In view of the above Scriptures there is only the State of Israel occupying the land that was promised to them by GOD.










(Q):  In Genesis 15:18, it says to your descendants and it describes from the Nile to the Euphrates.  Do you see that as a promise that Israel could have owned all that land? Or is that really only going to be fulfilled in the Messianic Kingdom?


(A):  Genesis chapter 15 and verse 18: “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates…” As I understand it, they will never fully occupy the land until they are forgiven as a nation.  When GOD promised the land to Israel, He didn’t give it all to them when they entered the land after the Exodus because of their unbelief.  And so the fullness of the promise awaits the time when Israel will be a righteous nation, and will be entitled to possess the whole land.  So yes, that means that this promise here will be fully realized only in the Millennium under the Messiah.



(Q):  What answer would you give to someone who says there’s been so much warfare over the Land of Israel for centuries and why do you think that’s been the case?


(A):  The reason is because of the disobedience of the nation.  GOD promised them that if they observed His statutes, their enemies may come against them one way and flee from them seven ways.  The problem was that they did not trust and obey, and the result was what the LORD warned them of – that they would have wars and conflicts.  It’s all a proof of the consequences of disobedience and of disbelief.



(Q):  GOD has placed His presence in the Land of Israel, and His eyes watch over the Land and it’s a place that He delights in.  In reference to that, is that a special place obviously that GOD holds to?  Is that also why there have been problems over this piece of land? Or could there be other reasons?


(A):  I believe you have hit upon the right reason why the Land is coveted by others, because Satan is the god of this world and whatever GOD loves, Satan hates.  That’s why he tempted man to fall – man who is the crown of GOD’s creation.  So it just shows that this piece of Middle Eastern real estate is very precious to GOD.  GOD says ‘the eyes of the LORD your God are upon it from one year’s end to the other.’  And for that reason, the evil one seeks to mar it and to deprive GOD of His pleasure in it.



(Q):  You know that Abraham nearly sacrificed His son Isaac on that Mount; the same mount which Messiah died upon.  Could we say that this Land has been precious to GOD and maybe goes right back to the point that the Garden of Eden could have been residing within this part of the world or is that too speculative?


(A):  That might be somewhat speculative.  No doubt the Land was precious to GOD because He is a GOD who knows no time, and so we can say that His love for the Land was a constant, but it may have been enhanced because it became the site not only of Abraham’s act of obedience at the Akkedah when he nearly sacrificed Isaac, but because it was the Land where Messiah, GOD’s Isaac, gave His Life for the sins of the world.



(Q):  We are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, yet in some sense we know that it won’t occur until Messiah reigns.  For someone who wishes to pray for the peace of Jerusalem what’s the encouragement at this time to continue to pray that prayer? What’s the reality of that prayer that we are hoping for?


(A):  The Bible says “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; may they prosper who love you.”  There’s a promise of blessing to those who pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and although we do not see the outcome of our prayers, yet our prayers contribute much to the comparative peace of Jerusalem.  Jerusalem would be worse off without our prayers and so would the world, because the future of the world, the happiness of the world are all dependent on the peace of Jerusalem. 


One old Jewish saint said that Jerusalem is like the heart of the world.  When the heart beats regularly, the world is in good health.  He compared it to a human body.  When the heart is sound, the body is sound.  When the heart is unsound so is the body.  Therefore when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we may well by our prayers be not only anticipating the day when perfect peace will remain in Jerusalem, but we are also holding back much that could harm, that could destroy the peace of Jerusalem, and thereby the peace of the world. 


We see it in our international situation where the troubles of Israel reverberate throughout the whole world like ripples from a pond.  Therefore it is a responsibility as Isaiah put it in chapter 62, and

verse 6 and 7:  “I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night.  You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, and give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.”


And the speaker Himself has set the example in verse 1:  “For Zion’s sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns.”


Much is involved in our prayers for the peace of Jerusalem.


(Q):  There is a lot of obvious political wrangling over the Land of Israel today.  What advice would you give to believers that are watching these attempts and political solutions being thrust, sometimes heavily, upon Israel trying to attempt to bring peace and how should believers respond biblically?


(A):  My advice to them first of all is that GOD is true to His word, and that what He says will certainly come to pass.  My second piece of advice would be to plead GOD’s promises to Israel, to plead them before the Throne of Grace, and to ask GOD for the accomplishment of His promise.  And thirdly I would advise them to encourage those of our brothers and sisters in the Land itself to stand firm, and to believe GOD despite all appearances to the contrary.  One thing we can be sure of, GOD said, “the Land shall not be sold forever, for the Land is Mine.” And GOD will make good that precept.



(Q):  And the true peace of Jerusalem will come when Messiah reigns?


(A):  The true peace of Jerusalem only comes when Messiah returns and reigns.  Look at how Psalm 72 puts it concerning the Messianic King. 

“He will judge Your people with righteousness, and Your poor with justice, the mountains will bring peace to the people, and the little hills by righteousness.  He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.”  That’s Psalm 72, verses 2 through 4.  That is the glorious promise, which we depend upon.



(Q):  When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, is it in effect a prayer directly to the LORD for His coming, because after all is He not the one who brings peace and no one else?


(A):  I quite agree.  You’ve ‘hit the nail on the head.’  When we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, we are also praying at the same time, for the coming of the Prince of Peace who brings peace to Jerusalem.  Thank you for that thought.

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